Investment firm and notable Yahoo shareholder SpringOwl is calling for some pressing changes at the troubled company. Most notably, SpringOwl is calling for giving the axe to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
Over last weekend, the investment firm sent a ten-step plan designed to turn around Yahoo to the company’s board of directors. The first step that was proposed was bringing in a new CEO.
In addition to cutting ties with Mayer, SpringOwl also wants Yahoo to cut about 75% of its workforce. Yahoo currently has nearly 12,000 employees. SpringOwl says that Yahoo should have no more than 3,000. Additionally, SpringOwl is suggesting that Yahoo replace many of its directors.
SpringOwl wrote in its presentation, “The board likely feels compelled to keep the current CEO because of the high compensation plan they previously granted to her but new leadership is needed.”
Since taking over Yahoo in 2012, Mayer has spent billions on acquisitions such as Tumblr. Virtually all of these expensive purchases have resulted in major losses for Yahoo. The Tumblr acquisition cost Yahoo about $1.1 billion.
SpringOwl said of the Tumblr purchase, “She bought it at the top and didn’t properly invest in the asset to make the most of it.”
Yahoo has declined to comment on the situation. Last week, the company’s chairman Maynard Webb said that the board is fully confident in its management team and its leaders. Shares for Yahoo are down 35% on the year.
Managing director of SpringOwl Eric Jackson has long been a major critic of Mayer. Jackson has not revealed how large of a stake SpringOwl has in Yahoo. The investment firm also reportedly disagrees with the proposal of Yahoo selling its core internet businesses, including its email and online search.
According to Jackson, Yahoo should try and turn these businesses around instead of just merely selling them off. Additionally, the ongoing talks of Yahoo’s tax-free spinoff might discourage bidders from making any sort of claim for part of the company.
Mayer and Webb have both said that they want to turn the company around. However, this has not stopped them from considering a tax-free spinoff of Yahoo’s core assets that would separate them from Yahoo’s prized 15% stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Mayer is currently on maternity leave after she gave birth to twins. Last week, the company announced a plan that would separate its $32 billion holding in Alibaba from their other businesses. Yahoo has been concerned that the Alibaba holding has been overshadowing the value of their core businesses for years. The proposed tax-free spinoff could take more than a year to complete. During that time, Yahoo would focus on a recovery plan.
Webb said, “We believe that we are significantly undervalued and we believe that the best way to unlock that value is by continuing to focus on the turnaround of our operating business and better execution there.”
Whether or not Yahoo takes the advice of SpringOwl remains to be seen. But don’t be surprised if Mayer’s days at the helm of the plummeting company are numbered.